Thursday, February 15, 2007

Theater Review--Journey's End with Hugh Dancy

Yesterday we had a blizzard here in NYC--our first big storm of the season. On Valentine's Day, no less. Oh, how I wanted to stay safely warm indoors all day, in my jammies. However....the day had come, at last!!!!!! About a month ago, when I first heard that actor Hugh Dancy (you might know him as Prince Char in Ella Enchanted, or as Galahad in King Arthur, or Essex in the Elizabeth I miniseries with Helen Mirren) was making his Broadway debut in the classic play, Journey's End, I knew I HAD to go. ASAP. While the play was still in previews (it opens Feb. 22nd). So, I called hubby at work and said we must go see *this* show, on Valentine's Day. That would be my present. He said, "Okay, but I'm not sitting in the second row." Grrrr. Okay, I got eighth row. We got a pre-theater dinner reservation at a restaurant we'd been dying to try, Chef Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne, and everything was rosy. Till 5 p.m. yesterday, when I had to trudge through the blowing, icy snow, down mostly unplowed streets, across huge drifts of snow to the subway station. As if that weren't enough, just walking from the 42nd Street station over to 44th and 5th was a nightmare--there were piles and piles of dirty slush everywhere, in every intersection. Blech! Finally made it to dinner (a half hour late--luckily hubby made it there on time so we didn't lose our precious reservation!). Dinner was fabulous, and then we moseyed over to the theater and settled into our seats (while I cursed that I *could* have had second row).

Okay, you're wondering....was it worth it?! Was it better than hunkering down at home in my PJ's?! Two words...OH YEAH! It was fabulous! The play, a WWI drama, was written by R.C. Sherriff and was first produced in 1929, with the then-unknown 21-year-old Laurence Olivier playing Capt. Stanhope, the role now played by Hugh Dancy. It was very powerful, very moving (and probably was more so just after WWI), and VERY well acted by the talented ensemble cast. The entire three-act play takes place in a dimly-lit bunker in France, near the British front lines (with the Germans just across 'no man's land'). It was probably one of the first portrayals of the harsh realities of war--where the men were scared half out of their wits, yet incredibly brave at the same time. It seemed very real, very human. And yet so civilized. ("Would you like a nice cup of tea, sir?" "Why yes, quite.") For me, the real indicator of the show's success was the fact that I absolutely believed that, just beyond the bunker, past the door and up the stairs, were lines and lines of British soldiers, standing in trenches dug into the French coutryside. The pounding guns in the distance seemed so real, and the danger felt palpable. I cared about these characters, about who would live and who would die.

Anyway, kudos to Hugh Dancy on a terrific Broadway debut--I imagine there will be many flattering comparisons made to the young Olivier in the same role, and any praise will be well-deserved. He had an incredible stage presence (and he's a big guy--much bigger than I expected him to be), and his performance was sympathetic and moving--an excellent 'tortured hero' as we in the romance world like to say. And, of course, there's the fact that he's just simply gorgeous.


OH, and I almost forgot!!!!! Check out the mini-teaser trailer for my upcoming book, TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL, on YouTube! Just click on the arrow below to play, and let me know what you think.

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